Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reviews:: Je Suis France Afrikan Majik

I’m not going to lie to you. When it came to rifling through a stack of promos to pick some discs for our latest road trip, Je Suis France’s latest release almost didn’t make the grade. Afrikan Majik has a cover that would make Fela Kuti or Parliament blush and never hearing of the band before, the name kind of turned me off. Luckily, I had been glancing at the pages of Catbirdseat and decided the album was nothing like I expected it to be.

Long story sort of shorter, we chucked it in the car and it got a listen or two when we were driving to Washington.Right off the bat, the band quickly redeemed themselves when the CD itself had, for no reason, a picture of Shaq on it. The record itself is as compelling as it is frustrating, which somehow makes it that much better. The band creates some ripping garage and straight ahead rockers (like the awesomely titled 101 Miles and Runnin’), but sandwiches the short punchy numbers with a 16-minute spaced out krautrockers like the opening track, Sufficiently Breakfast or the spacey, organic, extra long instrumental Feeder Band (another 8-minute ordeal). I actually thought I was at the planetarium on a science trip during the song.

I probably like the shorter numbers more, but this album takes the risk every blogger is always talking about. So much of the music that is getting made today is stuck in a depressing safety net of synths and obscure wind instruments or computer beats with whiney lyrics. Je Suis France certainly made a record they wanted to make, and basically tells critics or fans who don’t like it to pound sand. The third track – Whalebone – is an 8-minute epic that builds into a nice groove with some distorted synth and guitar sounds and the occasional high pitched vocal or Pacino-esque “Who Ha.” Trying to sell anyone on the idea would be tough, but when you sit down and listen, you get drawn in.

The band moves easily between post punk, prog, funk, kraut, and almost any other genre you’d want to hear (or not). 101 Miles and Runnin’ jumps from a garage riff into a frantic country fried stomper on Chemical Agents. The Love of the France is a catchy as hell electro-indie pop track (that comes in way too short at just over 2-minutes). The punkish riff of California Still Rules and double sing/screamed vocals are great. The album closer is a slow meandering freak folky track that transcends into a slow reggae vibe (without repeating myself when I describe every song, it sounds like it shouldn’t work, but strangely, it does).

To be fair, I’m not sure how long this CD will stick in my head. It is absoludicrous, but the sounds are definitely new and stand out and the band seems to be a bit crazy. All in all, worth checking out for sure.

MP3:: The Love of the France

Posted at 1:37 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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